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Hills or Flats?(13 posts)

Hills or Flats?Miggido
Oct 3, 2002 3:31 PM
Got a question for y'all. My girlfriend is about to get a road bike and start riding on a regular basis. I myself have not been riding that long on the road, plenty of dirt experience, though. My question is this - Should a new road cyclist spend a certain amount of time on mostly flat ground before attacking the hills? Will climbing too many hills, early on, hurt a cyclist in the long run? Our geographic location serves up plenty of hills, but friends of ours, who live 40 minutes away, have nothing but flat roads. Should she start on the flat stuff to avoid blowing herself out mentally and physically? Are there any other consequences to starting out on the hills? Thanks for reading.
Oct 3, 2002 3:34 PM
Ride the hills, but have appropriate gears. The effort is mixed, not so monotonous, which is good for the body and mind. The flats get boring and it's not easy holding speed continuously. She'll probably progress faster riding some hills, too. (We're not talking about 3,000 foot climbs here, right?)

Try both. Stick with what is fun. Go from there. (nm)czardonic
Oct 3, 2002 3:35 PM
1K base miles, then hit the hills with the right gears. nmSpunout
Oct 3, 2002 3:47 PM
re: Hills or Flats?The Human G-Nome
Oct 3, 2002 3:59 PM
do a couple weeks of flats until she's comfortable with herself on the bike, comfortable with the saddle and comfortable with the shifting. then ride anywhere. perhaps start with rolling hills if available to give the illusion of accomplishment before progressing to actual climbs.
Take's whatever you gots' ...Humma Hah
Oct 3, 2002 4:01 PM
If you have to get in the car and drive 40 miles to ride, that's an excuse not to ride. In the long run, excuses to not ride are the worst impediment to cycling.

Climbing hills intimidates my wife, but the worst hill around here is a paltry 120 ft, and she can deal with it even on her ancient 3-speed. Hills are good for you, and coasting down the other side is one of cycling's great, and well-earned, joys.

Totally flat roads might be OK for a beginner the first time out, or me taking my singlespeed cruiser out for a 1-day personal record distance record, but they're BORING and don't give the best quality of workout.
And ride what's fun & easy ... how big are the hills? nmPdxMark
Oct 4, 2002 7:47 AM
re: Hills or Flats?rengaracchi
Oct 3, 2002 4:35 PM
I have a girlfriend who is in the same situation. From what I have been observing and experiencing, I would say that give her plenty of time to get used to the bike on flat surface if she is totally new to the sport. Listen to her complaints about position and saddle pain seriously and work them out thoroughly. It is a great idea to be there when she uses pedals for the first time. I would also recommend that each of you carry a cell phone just in case something happens when you are separated. Once the cain of her bike fell when I was at the top and she was at the bottom of a long hill. She called me and I turned right back. It saved a lot of time and lifted worries.

Just be considerate and be patient. That gives her not only the optimal riding position but also assurance and support, which she really needs at the beginning. Once she gets confident enough on handling her bike, she can attack hills and go anywhere. Who knows, she could get faster than you are. :-)
re: Hills or Flats?ZvierBoy
Oct 4, 2002 1:23 AM
I agree with the above posters, take her 1st on the flats to get used to the bike and cars around her. After then do some rolling hills, and then hills.
If you do a progress (in terms of the flat to hills) like this it will most likely build up her confidence and encourage her to ride more often.

Throwing her head first into the hill 'pool' she may just drown so to speak. Ofcourse there are exemptions to that just like with anything else in life.
re: Hills or Flats?moabbiker
Oct 4, 2002 3:57 AM
I guess it all depends on what you define to be a hill. Flats will always be easier for a beginner because they can just coast when feeling tired and wont get discouraged by it much. But can't really do that on hills (at least the hills that I have around me, 10-15% grades).
Flat for a yearcyclequip
Oct 4, 2002 4:23 AM
At least. Or until she has started to develop a leg action and a proper cadence. Riding hills is not at all advised. But it depends - does she want to be a cyclist or just someone who rides a bicycle?
Flat for a yearThe Human G-Nome
Oct 4, 2002 4:32 PM
flat for a year? no, no, no. unless the person has never ridden a bike before in their life or is just unfit to the point of exhaustion while climbing a single flite of stairs, rolling hills (at the very least) will be no problem in no time at all. i live in San Francisco and you can't even find "flat" rides. there's no such thing. this question is highly dependent on the rider and rules need not apply.
re:Hills and flats.dzrider
Oct 4, 2002 4:48 AM
I know some riders who start out on flat land and never get around to learning to climb. They buy cute little books of easy bike rides and actually use them to plan rides. When my wife and I started riding together I looked for interesting destinations as a motivator and it worked pretty well. It was different in that Rachel did tons of riding as a kid and lived much of the way up a very tough hill, but I think the idea of making the ride part of an interesting activity is a good one.